9 simple tips for eating clean
Clean, green -- what does it really mean?
The clean eating movement has steadily been on the rise over the last few years and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Eating clean is better for both your body and the environment, so it’s a trend that hopefully is here to stay. Let’s delve into the basics of eating, and some simple steps to get you started on a cleaner diet -- today.
Clean eating isn’t necessarily a diet per se (although many diets incorporate clean-eating principals) but rather a way of life. Eating clean means consuming foods that are fresh, whole, and minimally processed. Basically, clean eating means choosing foods that take the shortest distance from the ground to your plate, avoiding the heavy earth-taxing processing that often occurs when you opt for packaged or fast foods.
Don’t know where to start?
Clean eating is actually a simple premise that you can slowly incorporate into your lifestyle, while weaning out your unclean foods. While many naysayers of eating clean tout increased food prices as a drawback, just remember to buy the highest quality food you can reasonably afford.
Here are some easy steps to help you start eating clean.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Doesn’t get much cleaner than this, and your body with thank you for all the extra disease fighting antioxidants.
Shop locally. Hit your local farmers market to buy produce that is season, at its peak of deliciousness, and much less expensive. You often also pick up local grains, nuts, meat, or dairy. In cold-weather months, check neighborhood or city papers and online listings to find an indoor market or co-op stocked by local growers.
Ask yourself if can you picture this food growing. If not, it’s not a clean choice. There are no marshmallow trees or fields of frolicking producers of cheese in a can.
Get comfortable reading labels. Start with the ingredients list. If a label lists anything artificial,has too many ingredients (more than three), or has ingredients with names you can’t pronounce, it’s not a clean choice.
Avoid processed foods. This means no to ‘white’ stuff – bread, sugar, flour, rice or other grains. Opt for legumes and whole grains instead. Brown rice, wheat flour, honey and quinoa are better choices.
Shop kindly. Choose meats, dairy and eggs from humanely treated animals, which often means organic. These will be more expensive but are well worth the few extra cents because you are also avoiding the antibiotics and hormones given to non-organically raised animals. Some companies, although not organic, will list on their label whether their product is free-range or hormone free -- also a cleaner option.
Consume heart healthy fats. Decrease your intake of saturated fats, omit trans fats entirely (seen as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on a food label) in favor of good fats, like olive oil.
Choose organic whenever possible. Take a look at the Dirty Dozen to help you decide which items should top your organic priority list.
Be prepared. Since you’ll be omitting those quick and dirty foods, keep clean snacks handy, plan ahead for meals and always have some go-to clean foods available. Don't just stock your pantry and cabinets. Pack your purse, stick snacks in the car and keep offering kids clean snacks. Eventually, you will all get hungry enough to eat -- and maybe even enjoy -- them!
What ways does your family practice clean eating?